In all honesty, this is a blog that is a long, long time coming. I have delayed and procrastinated and held off writing it. I have missed countless of deadlines and thankfully have been given the space to try and figure my thoughts out (thanks Liz!). In saying that though, I need to bite the bullet and face my dragon.
It’s been really hard for me to write this blog partly because the first blog post I wrote was so well received. I didn’t really know what to write after that. I felt as though everything that I had learned and experienced was put into that blog post. I believed I have nothing else to share. So I’m going to take a break from the ‘fake news’ series and unpack this in a way that I hope will be productive and helpful for anyone else out there that may be experiencing this.
Perfection. The golden standard. When I write it out it seems so silly to try and hold myself to this standard but the truth is, this is my reality. As I mentioned in my last blog post, I am the product of all of my experiences to date, so I’m going to put this in context for ya. I grew up in a family rich in the fa’aSamoa. I knew that when I was in public I represented not only myself but my parents and family. I was lucky enough to be really good at learning through the traditional educational system and I excelled in it. I was ‘pretty smart for a brown girl’ and within a community that was unfairly negatively stereotyped, I felt as though I represented my communities as well. So, it may not make sense, but this is my reality.
At the same time, holding myself to this standard should be liberating, right? It helps you shoot for the stars, dream big and achieve. Urrrr *buzzer sound*. No. Actually, it’s inhibiting. It’s the breeding ground for fear and doubt and all those awesome uplifting things. It cripples you. If things can’t be done perfectly then it won’t be done. This fear has been the biggest thing that I’ve had to overcome in my role here at the Trust. In the beginning of the year, I became the Programme Manager at the Trust. Every day I wake up anxious. Am I doing my job properly? Why didn’t I do X, Y or Z? Sometimes, I do things very slowly because I want things to be perfect. There have been times when this has really come back to bite me because things aren’t done quickly enough. I must admit there have also been times when I have been so overwhelmed that it has been easier for me not to do anything at all. Then the guilt sets in and the vicious cycle continues.
I’m really lucky though because not only do I have a great family but we have a great team. They’re kind of like the Avengers but real. Everyone brings a wealth of experience to their roles but most importantly, we try to cultivate an environment where we act as a safety net for the risks we need to take to innovate and improve the services that we offer. A space where we can be brave. A sanctuary where every failure is seen as a lesson, growing pains almost – necessary to the journey of improvement. There is no space for fear when you know that people are relying on you.
That’s why I’m always eager to share what I’m doing with others and the opportunities that we can help Pacific people who are trying to build sustainable businesses. Realistically we cannot help everyone but we will make sure that when you deal with us, we won’t leave you hanging. If we cannot help you, we will connect you with organisations or people who can. If we can help, we can extend to you a sanctuary, a place where you won’t need to be perfect but you do need to be open to failing, learning and growing.
So, to all the perfectionists moonlighting as procrastinators: be brave, ask for help and failures only exist if we do not learn from them.